A state bill aimed at keeping a Williamsburg senior and daycare center from being evicted is dead in the water, but pro-center activists say that now the mayor has their back.
The legislation that Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg) proposed to allow the city to seize the building that houses the Swinging Sixties Center using eminent domain, on the grounds that taxpayer money has helped pay the center’s rent for decades, passed the Assembly but is languishing in the state Senate, and Lentol says it is kaput. Lentol said Senate Republicans’ small-government sentiments will likely kill the bill, and said that he is taking a new tack to save the center: bringing in the big, tall guns from Mayor DeBlasio’s office.
“He committed himself to finding a solution to the problem,” Lentol said of the mayor. “We have more leverage with the mayor in our corner.”
“The administration shares the community’s concerns about 211 Ainslie St. and is eager to find a solution that satisfies all stakeholders,” said Deblasio’s press secretary Phil Walzak.
The 40-year-old community center has been fighting for its life since 2012, when its elderly and daycare operations lost city funding. The funding returned when the center’s constituents put up a stink, but the previous landlord sold the three-story building to the father-and-son Einhorn team for $4.5 million, turning down a $6-million offer from the housing advocacy group Saint Nick’s Alliance, which wants to save the hub. The Einhorns quickly moved to raise the rent and try to evict the center. The center has so far staved off city marshals in court.
Lentol proposed the eminent domain bill in January, claiming that the city should have more power to seize privately owned buildings that have long been used as public facilities.
Current zoning allows for a six or seven-story residential building to go up on the lot.